Update: Swanton Prison Locked Down After Two More Staffers Test Positive for COVID-19 | Off Message

Update: Swanton Prison Locked Down After Two More Staffers Test Positive for COVID-19

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Northwest State Correctional Facility - MICHAEL LETOUR / CC BY-SA/ CREATIVECOMMONS.ORG/LICENSES/BY-SA/2.0
  • Michael Letour / CC BY-SA/ creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0
  • Northwest State Correctional Facility
Updated at 8:58 p.m.

The Northwest State Correctional Facility in Swanton is in full lockdown after two staffers tested positive for coronavirus on Monday.

The lockdown means inmates must stay in their cells — where they’ll receive essential services, meals and medications — “except for emergency and hygiene purposes,” the Vermont Department of Corrections said in a press release Monday night.

The DOC announced a “modified lockdown” for the facility earlier Monday because a staffer who last worked at the facility on March 28 had experienced coronavirus symptoms. Test results came back positive later Monday.



Meanwhile, another staff member, who’d last worked at the facility on Friday, April 3, also tested positive on Monday. The DOC did not reveal what kind of contact the employee had had with inmates. A third staffer, who’d had some contact with inmates, had tested positive for COVID-19 on April 1.
The duration of the lockdown was unspecified in the DOC press release. Interim Corrections Commissioner Jim Baker said he’s scheduling a media availability for Tuesday.

Just fewer than 200 inmates are housed at the Swanton prison, and 123 people work there.

Another facility has had at least one coronavirus case, as well. A staffer at Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport tested positive on March 23. That employee had no contact with inmates.
According to DOC data posted to its website, one inmate in the prison system is currently being tested for coronavirus and is currently in medical isolation. Two inmates have completed medical isolation, the data show. None have tested positive.

Some lawmakers and criminal justice reform advocates are concerned about the potential for an outbreak in the close quarters of a prison. Baker has said the DOC is prepared in the event one or more inmates test positive for the disease.